Coca-Cola Femsa, Nestle Win Victory Over Sugar Cartel

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  • Colombian sugar producers fined for blocking imports
  • Sugar mill owned by billionaire Ardila Lulle fined $17 million

Colombia fined sugar producers a total of $112 million for anti-competitive practices following a complaint lodged in 2010 by Coca-Cola Femsa SAB, Nestle de Colombia SA and other buyers.

The nation’s antitrust regulator fined 14 companies for conspiring to block sugar imports from Bolivia, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. Fourteen company executives were also fined, the regulator said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday.

The sugar companies “deliberately conceived and executed a strategy that was anti-competitive, illegal, coordinated and prolonged, aimed at blocking sugar imports to Colombia, to avoid an increase in supply and reduced internal prices paid by consumers and the industry,” the regulator found.

Riopaila Castilla, which was fined $14 million, said in an e-mailed statement that it had behaved legally and with total respect for free competition, and said it will appeal the ruling.

Ingenio del Cauca SA, a sugar producer owned by billionaire Carlos Ardila Lulle, received the biggest fine, of $17 million. Ardila Lulle owns Postobon SA, which distributes PepsiCo Inc. products as well as its own sweet, fruit-flavored drinks. Ingenio Providencia SA, another producer owned by Ardila Lulle, was fined $12 million. Asocana, the sugar producers’ association, received an $11 million fine.